A selection of 18 Bible-based reflections from Ellel Ministries for you to read from time to time.
PLUS, dotted throughout this page are links to various Christian songs & hymns you can listen to on youtube e.g. 10 000 Reasons by Matt Redman ** Show Your Power ** When Peace Like a River ** When I Survey the Wonderous Cross ** Faithful One So Unchanging ** I Have a Shelter ** And Can It Be ** In Christ Alone ** The Lord’s My Shepherd by Stuart Townend
Please send us your recommendations for worship songs & hymns
18: My Lighthouse
You can listen to the song ‘My Lighthouse’
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
John 8:12, ESV
On a recent visit to Ireland, our friends took us to see an interesting old, medieval lighthouse. It was the monks from Tintern Abbey who kept the beacon light burning on Hook Lighthouse to warn ships where the rocks were and guide them safely to the harbour. They had a little chapel in the lighthouse, where I’m sure they prayed for those at sea to be safe during the storms.
Tintern abbey was built because a knight called William Marshal had come to Ireland for the first time to see some land which he had inherited. There was a storm and he nearly died at sea. He prayed to God and promised, if his life was spared, he would build a monastery wherever he landed on the shore. So, when he got safely ashore, he was faithful to his promise and had the abbey built. He sent over some monks from Tintern Abbey in Wales, which he was the patron of, and they ran it, and gave it the same name.
The lighthouse has remained, now operating automatically, for over 800 hundred years, providing a sure and certain guide for ships to find their bearings. Its flashing light has a certain timed sequence that is unique and unmistakeable at night, and, by day, its unique pattern of bands of black painted on a white background is a visual aid to those at sea. They are reassured when they catch sight of it. Sadly, we found the site of the old chapel was locked up and now just had a mounted photograph across the doorway.
The light which has come into the world is Jesus. He remains ever the same, although our society changes its ideas and believes it can do well enough without a guiding light to show the right way home to harbour. There are still dangerous rocks out there in the darkness which can cause us to be shipwrecked and perish.
I believe that, like the monks of Tintern Abbey, Jesus wants us to be keepers of His light, tending it and making sure it burns brightly and clearly in the darkness.
In my wrestling and in my doubts, in my failures You won’t walk out. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea …
In the silence, You won’t let go. In the questions, Your truth will hold. Your great love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea …
My lighthouse, my lighthouse, shining in the darkness. I will follow You.
My lighthouse, my lighthouse, I will trust the promise.
You will carry me safe to shore …
I won’t fear what tomorrow brings. With each morning I’ll rise and sing.
My God’s love will lead me through. You are the peace in my troubled sea … (Rend Collective)
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, that You are the light of the world and that You are my lighthouse. Please help me to shine Your light clearly to point the way of salvation to those who are lost in the darkness and stormy seas. May they find the way through the rocks to the safe harbour You have for them. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Liz Griffin Liz Griffin lived for 20 years as an expatriate in South Africa, Bahrain and Japan, as her husband Paul worked for an international oil company.
17. Simple Prayers
“And when you pray, do not heap up phrases (multiply words, repeating the same ones over and over) as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their much speaking. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” Matthew 6:7-8 (Amplified)
The topic of prayer is vast and there is so much one could say about it. However, I have found that praying seems to be something many people battle with at some point or another. There could be a variety of reasons for this. When we are very pressured and distracted by busyness, we may battle to focus. Our own perception of what we think prayer should sound like may also hinder us in our praying.
The scripture in Matthew 6:7-8 speaks about what prayer is NOT supposed to be. When we pray, we should not desperately be trying to get God’s attention by using fanciful words or impressive language. In fact, this scripture tells me that our many words and meaningless repetitions are not what God wants. Psalm 65:2 describes God as ‘the One who hears prayer’. He is not hard of hearing.
I think that, although there is much to learn about prayer, it is at times made to be far more complicated than it is. Psalm 139 says. ‘You perceive my thoughts from afar … Before a word is on my tongue You, Lord, know it completely’(verses 2 & 4). So prayer is not about ‘getting it right’ and using the correct words and methods. He knows our thoughts and what we are going to say, even before we say it!
God loves us and cares deeply about the things that affect our lives. He knows our needs, our heartaches, our desperations and our desires. He really does hear when we cry out to Him. One word spoken from a sincere heart is more than enough for God! Psalm 34:15 says, ‘The eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are attentive to their cry’. Attentive means ‘watchful, mindful and alert’. Be encouraged that God pays attention to us when we call on Him, no matter where we are at in our lives. We simply need to turn our attention to Him, allow our heart to connect with His heart, and be less concerned with being eloquent in our conversations with Him.
Isaiah 30:18 ‘And therefore the Lord [earnestly] waits [expecting, looking, and longing] to be gracious to you; and therefore He lifts Himself up, that He may have mercy on you and show loving-kindness to you …’
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You hear every prayer that I pray, whether it comes from eloquent or from stuttering lips. Thank You that Your ears are attentive to the cries of my heart. Thank You for Your mercy and loving-kindness towards me. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Christel Baxter joined the Associate prayer ministry team at Shere House, S.Africa in 2008.
16. Our First Love
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.”
There’s something special about our first love. Usually it’s a person, but it can be almost anything; a car, a sport, a place we always find ourselves returning to, or a hobby. It holds a special place in our heart. Does the Lord hold that special place? It’s easy for us to say “yes”, without really thinking this through.
The Church at Ephesus was founded by Paul, and had many great preachers there, including the Apostle John himself. In the letter God inspired John to write to it, there were a lot of things to commend the church. They weren’t afraid of hard work. They were very patient, and yet also uncompromising when faced with false teachers. These were all very good things, but the Lord had one thing against them, and it was so significant it threatened to undo all the good. They had left their first love, and, if they didn’t repent quickly, God Himself would remove His presence from the church.
Notice that they hadn’t ‘lost’ their first love. They knew where it was, and what it was. They had just left it. Other things had slowly taken away its pre-eminence in their lives. They were full of good works, and they had much sound doctrine, but the love of God had just got crowded out. It happens slowly. It happens insidiously. We think we need to attend all those church meetings, and we need to spend lots of time preparing sermons and Bible studies. So, we find ourselves busy with ‘doing’ the works of God, when He would rather we spent time with Him, just ‘being’ like a little child talking to Him, and listening to Him.
Or do we allow God to be crowded out by ‘me time’ on social media, engrossed in TV programmes, or watching sport. I’m not saying those things are bad in themselves, but have we allowed them to crowd Jesus out?
In a 2011 interview with Billy Graham, he said, “If I had to do it all over again, I’d spend more time in meditation and prayer, and just telling the Lord how much I love Him.” I find that an amazing and challenging comment. This man had served God in so many ways, preached to hundreds of millions of people, and led untold numbers to Christ. Yet, looking back on a long life, he wished much more of it was spent with Jesus.
Let me take you to Acts 4:13, ‘Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognised that they had been with Jesus’. Wow! Don’t you wish that were you? I know I wish it were me. The truth is that it can be you and me. The question is, where is our first love? Is Jesus first, last, or somewhere in the middle? Today, let’s begin that journey of returning to our first love. He hasn’t moved. He hasn’t deserted us. He isn’t angry. He’s where He’s always been, where we left Him, and He’s waiting patiently for us. Let’s hurry back today.
Prayer: Oh Lord, please forgive me for neglecting You, my true first love. You’ve never left me, but I’ve left You. I’ve been caught up in the busyness of serving You, doing so much stuff, when in reality only one thing is necessary, and that’s spending quality time with You. The rest flows out of that, not the other way round. Please help me to return to You today. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Philip Asselin is on the associate ministry and teaching teams with Glyndley Manor.
15. Our God is Able
I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust”.”
Psalm 91:2, NIV
I was recently asked what scripture I would choose to be framed as a picture, because it currently meant something special to me. My reply was immediate, because God had intimately spoken to me through the above text. When it duly appeared in a small frame, I was delighted. To know that God is a refuge and a fortress is one thing, but to know that He is my refuge and my fortress is another. One is knowledge; the other is experience.
Refuge and fortress are words that speak of shelter, protection, safety and trust. When life is unpredictable we may have our own hiding places, which can come in the shape of people, relationships or material things that we think will bring some peace, order, relief or happiness into our present confusion. But there’s only one true refuge and fortress – the one true God who’s unchanging and steadfast, and who will never fail.
The Bible tells us several times that our God is able. He’s omnipotent, so He has unlimited power; omniscient, so He knows everything; omnipresent, so He’s present everywhere at the same time. We have an amazing God who works everything for His own glory and chooses to include us in His plans and purposes.
‘He is able to do immeasurably more than all we can ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us’ (Ephesians 3:20). This means He works beyond our prayers and dreams by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because there are mysteries between God’s sovereign will and our prayers, our heart’s cry and the words of our lips should always be, “Your will be done. Lord, today, in my life and through my life, work Your own eternal purposes to Your own glory.”
‘He is able to save completely those who come to God through Him, because He always lives to intercede for them’ (Hebrews 7:25). Jesus saves completely, because Jesus is alive. He continually offers forgiveness, restoration, redemption and intimacy with His Father, to whom He intercedes on behalf of His children. If you’re saved you’re saved completely and you belong to Him forever. One day we’ll see Him and be like Him, for we will see Him as He is. In the meantime, isn’t it wonderful to know that Jesus, who’s at the right hand of the Father, never ceases to pray for us.
‘He is able to keep you from falling and present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy’ (Jude v 24). Life’s road can sometimes be quite rough and hard, but we’re never alone. We don’t have an onlooker, but a faithful Saviour, who never leaves us. He walks beside us with comfort and compassion, giving us all the strength we could ever need, and He’ll never ever leave us. It’s very releasing to realise that, in your own strength, you don’t have the resources for the uphill road, or, indeed, for anything that will truly please the Lord. It’s also comforting to know that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness, and He alone can keep us from falling.
Prayer: Father, thank You that You’re a rock and a fortress, and You’re also One who’s filled with compassion, tender love and keeping power. In my weakness, I turn to You today for your strength to be made perfect in my weakness. In the power of Your Holy Spirit, please use me today for Your glory. I pray in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Margaret Silvester had a career as a teacher prior to being called into full time Christian Ministry with her husband, David, in 1986.
14. The Wonder of the Season
“And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”
John 1:14, NIV
I saw a video clip recently explaining how vast the universe is. It went into great detail about the sun, stars and planets, as well as our milky way in relation to the rest of the known universe. It made my mind boggle to think that God simply spoke it all into being. Psalm 33:9 says, ‘For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast’.
Our own Milky Way galaxy has an estimated 100 billion stars, and there are an estimated 100 billion more galaxies like ours beyond us in deep space. Earth is really small in relation to the size of the sun, which is considered to be a very average sized star. Over a million earths would fit inside the sun, yet the sun is dwarfed by the magnitude of Arcturus, the fourth brightest star in the night sky, two hundred trillion miles from earth, yet visible with the naked eye. It has a radius twenty times greater than that of our sun.
It puts into perspective for me the absolute wonder of Jesus’ birth. God, the creator of the earth the stars and the galaxies, the One who simply spoke it all into being, sent His Son, Jesus, the Word, to become flesh, and live among us. He left the glory of Heaven and exchanged it for the reality of this minute, dusty planet, all because He loved us. And He chose to create us in His image. Even though we’re fallible, sinful, fragile people, we bear the image of our magnificent Creator. We carry His very presence within us, because Jesus came to redeem us, and to clothe us with His glory.
I’ve been challenged, over the recent Christmas season, to bear in mind the absolute wonder of the birth of Jesus. The One who holds the stars in place, the One who even knows them all by name, knows me by name, and made a way for me, through Jesus, to be in relationship with Him. Our magnificent, incomparable and immeasurable God gave without measure, because He loved me. ‘For God so greatly loved and dearly prized the world that He [even] gave up His only begotten (unique) Son, so that whoever believes in (trusts in, clings to, relies on) Him shall not perish (come to destruction, be lost) but have eternal (everlasting) life’ (John 3:16, Amplified).
Prayer: Lord Jesus, I stand in awe of Your amazing love. Thank You that You, as our Creator, were willing to humble Yourself to bring redemption to us and to reconcile us to Yourself, and to become ‘Immanuel, God with us’. I love You Lord. Amen.
Today’s writer: Christel Baxter joined the Associate prayer ministry team at Shere House, S.Africa in 2008 after attending the 20 day school.
13. Treasure the Truth
“But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”
Luke 2:19, NIV
On reading the familiar Christmas passages of Scripture this year I’ve found myself drawn to the story of Mary. Mary begins her life-changing journey as a normal young woman, excited and in love with a loving and gentle man, her future all laid out before her: ordered, planned, normal. Then Gabriel came to visit her with the message that she was to be the mother of the Messiah. Her nice, ordered, normal life was immediately thrown into a life of chaos, uncertainty, danger, fear and shame.
Those ensuing months must have been incredibly difficult for Mary – the shame and disgrace she carried, the fear for her life, the uncertainties, the constant words spoken against her, the lost friends and family who turned their back on her. It must have been almost unbearable.
Having spent several months in the turmoil of gossip and speculation, Mary, heavily pregnant, had to travel to Bethlehem where Jesus was eventually born in a hastily made up nursery of straw in a manger. The relentless turmoil continued – encouragement from the shepherds and the Magi, but then the news of Herod wanting to kill her new-born son and having to flee to a foreign land. The conflict between the knowledge that Mary carried in her heart and the harsh reality of life as the Messiah’s mother was immense.
Yet this is what Jesus was born into; a world of turmoil, danger, fear, conflict, shame and yet a world where the truth stood fast in the heart of His mother. Thus, as a little baby, He was kept safe and well.
Today’s Scripture is the key to how Mary coped with such external strife. Each offer of support, encouragement or confirmation, was stored up as a treasure in her heart. It was to be a constant resource of strength. Such words carried her through to the bitter end, when she had to endure watching her son die the cruellest of deaths.
This Christmas time, may we all learn a lesson from Mary; treasuring up the words of the truth of the Gospel in our hearts, pondering on them, so that they can strengthen us in the most dire of times. Let’s keep our eyes fixed on Him who is the truth, born into our world, experiencing our human vulnerabilities and conflicts of heart and reality. Let’s remain unwavering from what we know in our hearts to be the truth.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for coming into this world to save us. May we learn to treasure the truth of who You are, so we remain steadfast, despite the raging turmoil that surrounds us. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Lindsey Hanekom has worked at all of our UK centres over the years and is now settled at Ellel Scotland.
12. He Never Gave Up
“For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:2b, NIV
Do you sometimes wonder if you really matter to God? I’m being honest now. As believers we can all boldly declare that God loves us totally and unconditionally and will never fail us. But I’m talking here about when we’re tired and exhausted, when everything seems stacked against us, and when everything we’ve trusted in and relied on seems to have failed, and we’re struggling to survive another day, maybe even another hour, let alone another week. Do we wonder then, “Do I really matter to God?”
Let me take you back 2,000 years to a Jewish carpenter called Jesus. The Bible tells us He was and is the Son of God; God in the flesh, one with the Father. We find Him rejected by His family, yet He never gave up. Folk from His own home-town tried to stone Him, yet He never gave up. He was hated by the religious leaders, who conspired against him, yet He never gave up.
He struggled in Gethsemane to be obedient to the Father’s will, and sweated great drops of blood. Yet He never gave up. He was betrayed by a close friend with a kiss, yet He never gave up. He was deserted by His followers, yet He never gave up. He was scourged so severely that His back was like a ploughed field, yet He never gave up. He was ridiculed and slapped around by Roman soldiers, yet He never gave up. He was forced to carry His own heavy cross, yet He never gave up. He was nailed by His hands and feet to a wooden cross, yet He never gave up.
He took upon Himself your sins and mine, past present and future, yet He never gave up. He experienced the rejection and separation from Father God for the first time in all eternity for your sins and mine, yet He never gave up. He suffered and died an excruciating death when He could have climbed down from the cross, and no-one would have blamed Him, but He never gave up.
Why? Why go through all of that, when He never deserved any of it? What could possibly have kept Him going through it all without ever giving up? Take a look again at the verse we started with. There’s the clue right there. ‘For the joy set before him he endured the cross’. What on earth could that joy have been that was so great, so incredible, so wondrous, so precious that the Son of God should determine that no suffering, no rejection, no pain could make Him give up? The answer is in three simple words, ‘you and me’. We were, and are, the joy that was set before Him. It’s our salvation. The moment we gave our lives over to Him and asked Him into our lives was, and is, that joy that was worth it all to Jesus. It’s the joy that He saw as He looked forward into 2017, and beyond.
Do you matter to God? When everything, that can possibly go wrong, goes wrong, and the enemy whispers to you that God doesn’t care, and you don’t really matter, think again about a God who chose never to give up on you, and never will, because you fill His heart with joy. Determine to go on one more hour, one more day, one more week, knowing He never gave up on you, and never will.
Prayer: Oh Lord, I’m so sorry I doubt You when things seem to be going wrong. Forgive me for listening to the enemy’s lies. “Thank You” seems totally inadequate when I remember what You suffered for me. I’m utterly amazed, and so grateful, that I’m the joy for which You chose never to give up. Help me to never give up on You. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Philip Asselin is on the associate ministry and teaching teams with Glyndley Manor.
I Have a Shelter
11. Brother at the Helm
“Jesus makes men holy. He takes away their sins. Both Jesus and the ones being made holy have the same Father. That is why Jesus is not ashamed to call them His brothers.”
Hebrews 2:11, NLV
The boat was being tossed like a cork on the surface of the sea. My brother and I had just finished an exhausting day of fishing and were returning to our home for a well-deserved rest from our labour.
My hand shook as I tried to steer our small boat toward the safety of the harbour against the tide and wind. My futile attempts placed fear in my heart, as I realised the limits of my ability to steer it through a riptide and 7-foot waves with the tops of them churned into a white froth that smashed against the side of our boat, threateningly pushing us closer to the black rocks with each pounding wave.
I realised I needed to relinquish my hold on the helm to my older brother, if we were ever to reach the safety of the harbour, as he had more experience and had gone this way before. As he guided our small boat expertly through to the safety of the harbor, a great weight lifted from me.
Are we not like this in our lives in relation to Jesus? Is He not more capable to handle the stormy seas of our lives? Jesus has gone before us and has the experience we need to navigate the storms of our lives.
Today, in the midst of your storm, release your hold on your life, and let Jesus steer your vessel into the safe harbour He has for you.
Prayer: Thank You, Jesus, for caring for me. I know You know the best way through this storm I’m in. I choose now to let go and let You control where I go. I surrender my hold on the helm. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Jim Person grew up in Alaska and from a small child commercial fished every summer with his family. God called him, his wife Tanya, and their four children to move to Hungary as missionaries in 2003.
May the Words of My Mouth
10. The Power of Words
“May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.”
Psalm 19:14, NIV
The front page of a recent national newspaper contained only six words, but they spoke volumes – “Words are powerful. Choose them well.” Twenty-two journalists, employed by the newspaper in different aspects of journalism, wrote of choosing their words extremely carefully so that they would have the greatest impact on their readers or hearers. Their job included selling their ideas and opinions to the public, and convincing them of their worth.
Words seem to be a most powerful force available to us; undoubtedly our spoken and written words can be a significant force for good or evil. Jesus warned that what comes out of the mouth comes from the heart, ‘For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks’ (Matthew 12:34). What a lot of weight is carried by reckless words, spoken in the heat of the moment. Sadly, they can never be recovered. Words have power to create or destroy, break hearts or heal, build up or pull down, encourage or dishearten, to bless or to curse.
The Bible makes a very clear statement about the careless use of the tongue, ‘Sometimes it praises our Lord and Father, and sometimes it breaks out in curses against those who have been made in the image of God. And so blessing and cursing come pouring out of the same mouth. Surely, my brothers and sisters, this is not right’ (James 3:9-10 NLT). We bless others when we speak positive words of hope, encouragement love, assurance and acceptance. We curse others when we speak negative words causing hopelessness, despair, unworthiness or rejection to or about them. ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue,’ (Proverbs 18:21), because both blessings and curses carry supernatural spiritual power. How reassuring it is to know that the blessing of God is more powerful than a human curse.
Words which bring a curse also include negative, belittling words people speak over or about themselves without realising that they are speaking the language of the devil, the father of lies. All negative and demeaning words need to be revoked, because they can be life-controlling, affecting both identity and destiny.
God’s words, recorded in His Word are amazing. In fact everything that exists came about by words. The universe was created with a word. God spoke and all things came into being. ‘God said and it was so’. Each of us is made in the image of God, and He has given us the capacity to speak good, creative words. We have the power of words, and what we speak is not without significance. Jesus is our example, ‘All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips’ (Luke 4:22).
Prayer: Father, thank You for the gift of words. Please forgive me for any negative words I have spoken about myself or about others, and, by the blood of Jesus, cleanse my heart from the sin which is their source. May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in Your sight, O Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer, so that my words honour You and bring blessing to others. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Margaret Silvester Margaret Silvester had a career as a teacher prior to being called into full time Christian Ministry with her husband, David, in 1986.
‘Here is Love’, sung first in Welsh & then in English. Here is Love
9. So Close, but Not Close Enough
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
John 3:16 NKJV
This is probably the most well-known verse in the Bible. I found myself thinking about it recently in terms of how God saved me forty-four years ago. I was thinking back to before that day, and how I could have ticked off so many of the requirements we have for someone to be regarded as ‘saved’.
My mother attended Church. I was brought up to attend from time to time. I was there every Christmas Eve service. I had my first and second communion. I went to a Roman Catholic senior school. I completely believed that God existed. I believed that Jesus existed, and that He was, and is, God; that He died for all our sins and for mine too. I thought I had my golden ticket to heaven. I was definitely going to be OK when I died. I didn’t have a relationship with Jesus, but that was to be expected, as He was far too busy trying to sort out all the problems in the world to take notice of me. That was OK because I had my golden ticket, and I wouldn’t have known what to say to Jesus anyway, apart from the standard church prayers I knew by heart.
So, I believed in accordance with John 3:16, or so I thought. But you see ‘believe’ there doesn’t just mean a mental assent, because we’re told in James 2:19 that ‘even the demons believe there is a God and they tremble’. No, ‘believe’ in the Greek means to trust in, rely on and to lean on with your whole weight.
I saw a good example of this when my wife and I visited the Grand Canyon Skywalk some years ago. It’s a circular bridge which extends over the canyon with opaque glass on the left and right sides of the walkway, and clear glass in the centre. Although the thickness of glass is the same all the way along, it’s amazing to see how people avoid standing on the clear glass. They just can’t trust that it would hold them. For me, all those years ago, I was unable to fully lean on and trust in Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. It took six months of internal struggle before I was, and the relief was amazing.
Another event, many years afterwards, further illustrated the difference to me. This time my wife and I were in Jersey (where I was born), and attending a large garden fete. At that time, the TV series ‘Bergerac’ was all the rage, and we watched it avidly in the UK, trying to spot the places in Jersey where the filming was taking place.
At the fete John Nettles (‘Bergerac’) made an appearance with his iconic ‘Triumph Roadster 2000’ that he drove in the series. Crowds gathered, and I kept waiting for him to recognise me and acknowledge my presence. You see, I was so used to seeing him that I felt he must know me too. Then the realisation dawned and I felt so stupid. I realised “He doesn’t know me” It was then that the words of Jesus came to mind, ‘“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you …’’ (Matthew 7:21-23).
Why have I chosen this for today’s ‘Seed’? It’s because I want to reach out to any reader who thinks that they have the golden ticket to heaven, but haven’t gone beyond the head belief in Jesus. You haven’t leant on and relied totally on Jesus to save you. You’re walking along the opaque edges of your life with Jesus, but unable to trust Him fully. You think you know Jesus, but the much more important question is, “does He know you?” Have you got a relationship with Jesus so that you spend time together and you know in your ‘knower’ that you are His and He is yours forever?
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus, please reveal to me today if my relationship with You is just a mental belief that You exist, and died for me. Reveal to me by Your Holy Spirit if I’ve failed to go all the way in trusting You. Reveal to me if my knowing You just extends to me thinking I do, but, in reality, You don’t know me. If so, I want that to change now. I choose to give my life to You and lean on and trust You with all I am. Please be my Saviour and Lord. Thank You, Jesus. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Philip Asselin Philip Asselin is on the associate ministry and teaching teams with Glyndley Manor.
8. Love Isn’t Love Until You Give It Away
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another;
as I have loved you, that you also love one another.
By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”
John 13:34-35, NKJV
Mary Martin, star of the Broadway version of the Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific, was about to go on stage one night, as she had a thousand times before, when a note was handed to her. The note was signed by Oscar Hammerstein, who was on his death-bed. The note was short. It simply said: ‘Dear Mary, A bell’s not a bell until you ring it. A song’s not a song until you sing it. Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’.
When the performance was over the cast literally rushed her backstage to congratulate her. She was always a superb performer, but they had never seen her sing or act as she had that night. So, Mary read them Hammerstein’s note and said, “Tonight, I gave my love away”.
Jesus didn’t beat about the bush and offer some vague suggestions about love. He actually commanded us to love on another. To ensure we really understood the message He demonstrated what that love is like by dying on the cross, bearing our sin and shame and suffering in our place – because He loved us first.
No matter how rich or poor we are, where we’re from, our qualifications (or lack of them), or our age and social standing, we all have love that’s available to be given away. How do we give it away? By a kind word, a loving gesture, a hug, a smile, a note or letter, a helping hand, being there for someone in need, sitting with someone who has suffered loss. The list goes on and on.
I wonder if you’ve ever been given a gift that seemed inappropriate, or just odd. I have recently. It was a blue fluffy penguin! Lovely for a baby or young child, but for a sixty-five-year old man it was a bit odd. I know it was done with the best of intentions, but sometimes the gifts we give and receive may seem out of place, or not at the right time. That never applies to love. It’s always appropriate. It’s always at a good time. It always fits. In fact, Paul, in 1 Corinthians 13 says that ‘love never fails’.
Let me bring you back to the note from Oscar Hammerstein. He was spot on when he wrote, ‘Love in your heart is not put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away’. Love in our heart was put there by Jesus. It’s a gift of God, and yes, some people are able to feel it, and access it more easily than others. But, we all have the capacity for it, and it isn’t activated until it’s given away.
Until then it’s a nice warm feeling, a good intention, a comforting thought, but it achieves nothing outside of us until it’s activated. Giving it away triggers that activation process, and its effects can be incredibly far reaching. Today choose to activate the love within you by giving it away. Find different ways to show that love to others, and watch the results, as you cause that love to ripple out to others.
Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You for Your love that I feel in my life, the love You gave for me and demonstrated so powerfully on the cross. I know I’m not intended to sit on it, but rather to give it away, to create a chain reaction daily in other people’s lives as I give away, in a multitude of ways, the love You’ve poured out on me. In so doing, I don’t just bless others, but bless myself, and bring praise and honour to the One who gave it to me. Thank You, Lord. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Philip Asselin is on the associate ministry and teaching teams with Glyndley Manor.
The hymn ‘Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus’ reminds us how God wants to help us through the storms of life Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus
7. God’s Great Equaliser
“Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinner- of whom I am the worst.”
1 Timothy 1:15, NIV
Equality is a real ‘now-word’. It’s something heard in the news, something people talk about. It’s fought and campaigned for, and being claimed as an inherent right for all. This sense of wanting equality for everyone (in particular, of course, for ourselves) must touch a real heart-string that’s deeply imbedded in human nature. After all, no one likes feeling second best.
Looking at the world today, it appears that more and more groups and factions are fighting to establish their right to be seen and treated as equal. Ironically, the more people clamour and fight for these rights, the more other sections of society seem to feel left behind. Is it possible that modern society finds itself in a self-perpetuating, hopeless cycle?
In light of this, I love contemplating the cross of Jesus Christ, as I believe that only at the foot of the cross do we find that which we, and all humankind, are looking for. I believe that the cross of Jesus is the one and only, genuine equaliser.
First of all, when we consider Jesus on the cross, we realise that each one of us is special. There He is, the Messiah, God the Son, sent to die for you and me, because we’re worth it in the eyes of our Creator. He loved us all so much that Jesus was sent from heaven to earth to die for our sins. Love, value, worth and gratitude stream into our hearts as we behold the man upon the cross. And as we look sideways we find that the person next to us is just as valuable as we are. Jesus died, not only for you or me, but for all of humankind. What love! – enough to satisfy us all.
Secondly, as we bow the knee and receive His mercy, we find that none of us are really worthy of this amazing love. Did we deserve it? Can we claim that we’ve earned His love, – or, indeed, that there’s anything good in us? Again, we find that we’re all alike. As Scripture says, ‘There is no one righteous, not even one’ (Romans 3:10). Looking around us, we find that each and every person, so loved by God, isn’t any better than anyone else. We’re all sinners loved by an amazing God. And so, we lose any perceived right to lift ourselves above others, and we stop feeling superior to others. All we can do is bow the knee together and worship God.
Perhaps you’re one of the people who feels hard done by, overlooked, oppressed or minimized. Perhaps you too feel that you should be treated equally, more fairly. And perhaps you’re right. Maybe you haven’t been treated as you should have been. But can I encourage you that only in light of the cross of Christ will you find answers for your heart’s cry. He loves you just as much as He loves everyone else.
Prayer: Father in heaven, thank You that You love me just as much as anyone else. Thank You that You don’t play favourites, but that we’re all immeasurably loved by You. Help me to keep the cross of Jesus central in my life and, in particular, in my search for significance and value. Thank You for hearing my prayer. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Today’s Writer : Dutch-born Peter Brokaar joined the Ellel Scotland team in 2005 together with his American wife Liz and now serves as Centre Director.
The hymn ‘And Can It Be’ reminds us just how much God loves each one of us: And Can It Be
6. Our Unchanging God
“For the LORD is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations”
Psalm 100:5, KJV
Perhaps it has always been the case, but there seems to be a growing trend in the church today to adjust the clear words and meaning of the Bible to fall in line with current public opinion. Sadly, many church leaders seem to be far more concerned with being politically or culturally acceptable than with being true to God’s word.
This is a dangerous territory. For if we cannot have confidence in the unchanging truth of God’s spiritual laws as expressed in His word, we will increasingly lose confidence in God Himself and His precious work of redemption from sin through the cross. However challenging, do I continue trust in the wisdom of God or follow the wisdom of man?
God has not given us His laws to simply provide an interesting opportunity for debate regarding their current validity. They are written down in the Bible, affirmed by Jesus and His followers, so that, whatever the changing fashion of public morality, those who choose to walk God’s way can be confident that there exists an eternal plumb-line of divine righteousness. What was right with God in the past will always be right and, what’s more, it will always lead to well-being for those that live, in Christ, according to God’s unchanging word.
Prayer: Father, I choose to believe that Your truth will endure through all generations on earth until the end of days, irrespective of the ever-changing opinions of the world. Amen.
Today’s Writer : David Cross is Deputy International Director for Ellel Ministries, with particular responsibility for the Ellel centres in Western Europe.
In the song ‘Faithful One’ are the words ‘You are my rock’: Faithful One
5. Moving Forward
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous.
Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.”
Joshua 1:9, ESV
These words must have been so comforting to Joshua as the mantle now passed to him, after Moses’ death, to lead the children of Israel forward into the Promised Land.
It is also God’s command and promise to each of us as we move forward in our personal journeying with Him, especially if the road ahead gets difficult, or unexpected storms come across our path. Jesus further instructs and encourages His disciples to ‘abide’ in Him, and if we are where He wants us to be, in His plan and purposes, then we can be reassured and at peace, since nothing takes Him by surprise, as He knows the way ahead, and has the bigger picture. Unexpected circumstances can often test our level of trust and resolve, but our Heavenly Father is always watching over us.
Maybe He is asking you to step out of the boat into a new venture, or new season, and you’re feeling quite nervous. Don’t worry. He’s riding the ocean waves and with your hand in His, He’s there for you as He was for Peter. He wants you to enjoy the journey and not be afraid of it. You are in the safest hands in the universe. He won’t drop you!
Or maybe you have received some disappointing news, from an unexpected source. Remember, He knows the way through the wilderness or through the desert. He parted the Red Sea for the Israelites, and He will show you the way forward.
Or He may just be asking you to stand by your post like a soldier on duty at Buckingham Palace, and He wants you to trust Him with the length of service, however short or long that may be. The heat of the day may encroach on the spiritual armour you need to wear (Ephesians 6), but keep all pieces of your armour in place, for it will both protect you and enable you to combat approaching enemy attacks in testing times. Never ever give up.
No matter our circumstances, we are instructed to keep to the narrow way (Matthew 7:14), for it is the way of life. Each of our journeys is unique to each individual, but the presence of our Lord Jesus is with us personally in all of our circumstances, and we have His promise that He will never leave us nor forsake us.
In John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’, ‘Christian’ chose to ascend the hill ‘Difficulty’, though clambering on his hands and knees, for it led to life, while his two companions chose what seemed easier routes, but which ended in catastrophe. Easier options will often present themselves when there is a choice to be made, but the way of the Lord must be the only choice for those who belong to Christ.
Whatever each day brings, know that you can trust Him, for He is trustworthy, and He is ‘with you to deliver you’ (Jeremiah 1:8).
Prayer: Help me to keep my eyes on You, my hand in Yours, and my ears open to Your every whisper, that I might remain in You in all circumstances. Thank You, Lord, for guiding me safely through life’s precarious journey. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Patricia Lake is the Secretary to Peter Horrobin (the Founder and International Director of Ellel Ministries) having previously trained in business.
The song ‘In Christ Alone’ reminds us that if we let Him, Jesus will be the cornerstone and solid rock in our lives: In Christ Alone
4. The Kindness of God
“The Lord is righteous in all His ways and kind in all His deeds.” Psalm 145: 17
There’s a song by Matt Redman called, 10 000 Reasons. I love this song, because it always reminds me how wonderful the Lord is to me. The words of the second verse of the song are as follows:
“You’re rich in love and You’re slow to anger,
Your Name is great and Your heart is kind.
For all Your goodness, I will keep on singing,
10 000 Reasons for my heart to find!”
I’ve become so aware of this attribute of God’s character – His kindness. Kindness is defined as ‘the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate’. However, it really overlaps with other words in its true essence and meaning, words like goodness, mercy, pity, love, grace, favour, compassion, gentleness, and tenderness.
One of my favourite scripture passages is the account in Exodus 33 and 34 when Moses meets with God in the Tent of Meeting, after the Israelites had sinned by worshipping the golden calf. And Moses speaks face to face to God about the way forward. The conversation between God and Moses is worth reading for yourself, as it speaks beautifully of God’s commitment to Moses and His people.
In verses 17-18 of Chapter 33, we read the following: ‘And the Lord said to Moses, I will do this thing also that you have asked, for you have found favour, loving-kindness, and mercy in My sight and I know you personally and by name. And Moses said, I beseech You, show me Your glory’.
If God had to show you His glory – Who He is – what would you expect it to look like? This great God of the universe, the Creator of everything, would surely display His power in the most extravagant manner. And yet, God chooses this moment when Moses asks God to reveal Himself to display the very essence of His character. He said to Moses, ‘I will make all My goodness pass before you, and I will proclaim My name, The Lord, before you’ (Exodus 33:19). ‘And the Lord descended in the cloud and stood with him there and proclaimed the name of the Lord. And the Lord passed by before him, and proclaimed, The Lord! the Lord! a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abundant in loving-kindness and truth, keeping mercy and loving-kindness for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but Who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:5-8).
God revealed Himself as a God who is kind, gracious, merciful, slow to anger, just, and forgiving. He chose to reveal Himself as a God who knows that His children need kindness, patience and forgiveness, when they actually deserve His wrath. He’s abundant in loving-kindness and truth. Romans 2:4 says that God’s kindness (or goodness) is intended to lead us to repentance. Let’s run TO God and not away from Him when we have messed up. ‘For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust’ (Psalm 103:14). His heart towards us is kind and merciful. What an encouragement this is!
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your kindness towards me. I see it in so many little things throughout my everyday life. Forgive me for the times I’ve doubted Your abundant goodness and loving-kindness. Thank You that, as with Moses, You know me personally and by name. I love you Lord. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Christel Baxter joined the Associate prayer ministry team at Shere House, S.Africa in 2008 after attending the 20 day school.
3. Lord is MY Shepherd!
“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.”
Psalm 23:1-2, NIV
To hear a lovely version of this on youtube: The Lord’s My Shepherd by Stuart Townend
There can be no more encouraging verses of Scripture than these. Psalm 23 is the most well-known of all the Psalms for this very reason – it speaks of comfort and encouragement to men and women at every stage and in every condition of life.
God is unchangeable and cannot ever change His character. His heart is that of a Shepherd for His people and he longs to gather His sheep into His arms and speak to them words of comfort and blessing. Isaiah tell us in 40:11 that “He tends his flock like a shepherd: he gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.” This is the heart and character of our loving Creator God.
Then Jesus told the story of the shepherd who had a hundred sheep, but one of them had strayed and was lost – so he left the ninety-nine who were safe and went seeking the lost sheep till he found it. And what joy there was when the sheep that was lost was restored to the flock (Luke 15:1-7).
In all these Scriptures God is not really talking about sheep, He is talking about the people he loves and using sheep as a picture that anyone and everyone can understand, whatever their age and whatever their culture. It is a universal image that speaks to the very core of who we are as human beings. We all have a deep inner need of being loved, nurtured and cared for by our heavenly Father. And He is ready, willing and able!
There are seasons in life when we have different needs, according to the stage of the journey we have been walking through. Sometimes we are in need of rest in the human equivalent of green pastures, lying by still waters. At those times we can take in deeply of his loving provision, while he restores our soul. He wants to re-equip us for the road ahead.
Then He promises to lead us along paths of righteousness – and at that point we will need to exercise our free will and choose to follow in the direction that He is showing us. He is a good Shepherd and will not lead us in a direction that is contrary to His will and purpose for our lives. The heart of the message of these verses is that God can be trusted, so may I encourage you to trust Him now and always.
Prayer: Thank You, Lord, that You are not only a good Shepherd, but You are also My Shepherd. Thank You for your promise to lead me in paths of righteousness. I choose now to follow where You lead as I trust You afresh for every day of the rest of my life. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Peter Horrobin is the Founding and International Director of Ellel Ministries. Ellel Ministries International was originally established in 1986 as a ministry of healing in the north-west of England.
If you have time, just stop for a minute & listen to ‘Lord You Have My Heart’ on youtube: Lord You Have My Heart
2. Changing Our Mindset
“Destroying false arguments, we pull down every proud obstacle that is raised against the knowledge of God; we take every thought captive and make it obey Christ. ”
2 Corinthians 10:5 GNT
We need to learn an important lesson regarding how God provides for His people. It’s just five words, ‘one day at a time’. When God provided manna for His people in the wilderness it was just enough for a single day (except before the Sabbath). There were some who couldn’t quite trust God to meet their need each day, so they gathered extra, only to find it was completely rotten by morning. Their efforts to extend God’s provision in their own strength failed dismally.
Worrying about a tomorrow (the future) that we can do nothing about is like trying to store up manna for tomorrow. It doesn’t last because it’s intended to be fresh each day. Part of the problem we face here is that we can recall God’s provision in the past, we can know His presence and provision in the present, but we haven’t met Him in the future, so we struggle to believe He’s going to be there.
The manna God provided is a good illustration of God’s grace. We receive all that we need for today. Tomorrow we start anew. God’s grace will be there for us, but we have to trust Him for it, just as the Israelites in the wilderness had to for their manna. God kept His word to them and they didn’t go without for forty years.
Worrying about tomorrow is the enemy getting us to torment ourselves through a list of ‘what if’s’. What if I lose my job? What if I run out of money? What if I get cancer, dementia, or lose my sight? What if I can’t find someone to love me? What if I lose my partner? What if I end up alone and lonely? What if I make a mistake and end up in the wrong place or job, or with the wrong partner because I didn’t hear from God? What if God were to give up on me because I keep failing?
Sadly, the list is almost endless. This is why the verse we started with is so important. Paul tells us that these are ‘imaginations’ and they’re the enemy feeding us the very worst case scenarios to destroy our peace. Paul’s antidote from God is to cast them down and take them captive. It’s to trust Him for tomorrow, and not worry about it. After all, you can’t change tomorrow, only God can do that.
I’m not saying don’t pray about tomorrow. I’m saying give it over to God and await the grace (manna) you need to arrive just when you need it, and know it will be sufficient for just that day. Someone said that worrying about tomorrow is paying interest today on a loan you haven’t taken out yet. That’s quite profound when you think about it.
So, let’s give to God our fears about the ‘what if’s’ of tomorrow and stop wasting our time and energy on them, as it just drains us dry of joy and hope. Instead, let’s give our tomorrows over to God, one day at a time and praise Him for each day that His grace shows up (because it always will). Let’s stop trying to get God to do what we want Him to do and let God be God, and relax in the peace that comes from that.
Prayer: Dear Lord, You know how much time, energy and joy I’ve wasted in worrying about my tomorrows. With Your help, I choose to cast down those imaginations which just make my fears seem even bigger. Instead I choose to view them through the truth that Your grace is sufficient for me and will never fail. Today and every day from now on I choose to trust You for my tomorrows, knowing You’ve never failed me, and never will. Thank you, Jesus. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Philip Asselin is on the associate ministry and teaching teams with Glyndley Manor.
- Shelter from the Storm
“The Lord is a shelter for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble.”
Psalm 9:9, NLT
Recently we had a huge storm at our house. There was lightning and thunder and hail. I was so glad to be indoors and watching it through the window. I felt safe because I was indoors. I opened the door at one point to see the hail better, but I quickly had to close the door because the hail was coming inside.
In our lives, we frequently can feel that we’re going through a storm. We may face trials and persecutions of many kinds. But we’re not without hope. God’s promised to be our shelter through it all. The Bible says the righteous run into Him and are safe (Proverbs 18:10).
I was very encouraged recently by reading Psalm 27:1-3 (NLT), ‘The Lord is my light and my salvation— so why should I be afraid? The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble? When evil people come to devour me, when my enemies and foes attack me, they will stumble and fall. Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident’.
God doesn’t say that we will not have problems in our lives, but he does tell us that we can be overcomers. In John 16:33, Jesus says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”
We can be victorious over our enemies and we don’t need to fear. We need to run to the Lord and find our strength in Him. Psalm 27 finishes off with verse 14, which says, ‘Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord’.
We sometimes look for a quick answer to our problems, but, as we run to the Lord, we need to be patient, brave, and courageous. He’ll protect us through the storms in our lives.
Prayer: Lord, thank You that You promise to be a strong tower for us. Give us the patience to wait for You, and the courage to run to You as our strong tower and shelter from all the storms of our lives. Amen.
Today’s Writer : Tanya Person and her husband are missionaries to Hungary, and are Directors for Ellel Central & Eastern Europe Development Centre, where they travel to Serbia, Croatia, Czech and other countries teaching Ellel schools and overseeing the development of work in the area.